Page builders. Am I doing it the hard way?

This is another one of those annoying advice topics, so feel free to ignore or delete if it’s too far off topic.

Lately it seems like other WordPress discussion forums just love talking about page builders, like Beaver, Visual Composer, and the like. And maybe I haven’t given these tools a fair shake.

My typical method for making more complex page layouts is ACF Flexible Content fields; the designer comes up with a few consistent “blocks” that can be effectively reused, we build them out, and go to town creating pages. We like this method because it gives us the most control; we can add block types in the future easily, and everyone (both we and the client) is encouraged to use a consistent look and feel for the site. But it can take some time to develop the templates and styles for this approach.

Am I doing this the hard way? Is the trend that I’m seeing towards page builders better/more useful/The Future?

What do you use for more complex page layouts?


In recent months we’ve seen the arrival of the WP REST API and the open-sourcing of Calypso. Plugins like the visual page builders listed are just duct tape and chicken wire trying hold together the wp-admin (and thus their revenue streams) for a few more years.

That said, ACF is a solid tool that provides an effective solution to many page layout issues. When I have needed to use it, I have found it to work well.

1 Like

I’m also using ACF but am searching for a nicer front end drag & drop builder. I have stumbled on OnePager which i think is made with react JS and working with it seems really nice but i don’t think it works with acf.

There was another similar post a while back which may help.

1 Like

@MWDelaney I think you’ll find a lot of people using ACF flexible content. I think it’s great from a dev point of view with great docs etc. But it would be nice if the user could get some visual feedback immediately. @darjanpanicOne pager looks pretty slick from an admin point of view. Have you built a site with it?


I see Aesop mentioned in that other thread a few times. I’ve looked into Aesop a couple of times in an effort to give clients a more “free-form” editing experience but I’ve stayed away from it because it seems very similar to the Page Builder method. ACF’s use of meta fields seems like a more “wordpressy” way to handle the problem, rather than inline HTML or Shortcodes. Separating code and content and all that.

Hey, @etc, how does Aesop insert its content blocks? Is it HTML in the_content(); or is it something more like ACF?

@Josh_Ellis Didn’t have time yet to try it out, but i think i can do a lot more things with ACF. There are some interesting ACF front end addons but are a bit outdated. This and this one.

But it like how OnePager html is clean since i have it similarly clean with ACF. Visual composer just drops tons of stuff in.

There was a presentation about page builders at WordCamp Atlanta. It posted to a couple weeks ago. Aaron Reimann: Page Builders Showdown Im not sure if he tested them with ACF.

I skimmed it very briefly. He uninstalls the page builder plugins after creating the sites. Several of them were a short code mess after that. I think a couple were still working because they use good code.

I’ve done some basic stuff with visual feedback for users (example: I don’t have this as a plugin yet but if there’s interest I can try to throw it together) but yeah, generally that’s a concern with ACF and clients.

I guess I have to decide when HTML constitutes “content”. That’s a tough line to draw.


Hi, as a marketer I’m wondering a lot about the best practices for complex and flexible layouts.

The user experience provided by visual composer is nice but it could be quite slow and of course it’s not a good practice to put all those shortcodes in the content and I think they are also duplicating all the code from bootstrap.

I’m still looking for the ideal alternative. Maybe just build the landing page outside of wordpress… (Unbounce, Mautic, Hubspot…)

I also wonder if using html generated with a “boostrap builder” in the content could be a solution…


I’m no longer affiliated with Aesop. The entire project was sold to a third party buyer - however, it uses the standard shortcode method of content parsing.

very cool! feels very similar to the theme customizer with the instant feedback (even if it’s on the backend) - I’d love to see this as a plugin, or if you’re game, throw it up on a github repo so others can hack away at it :slight_smile:

I put it up in a GitHub repo here. I’m happy to discuss it in detail!

1 Like

If someone wants to test the new Live Composer ASAP, they have a registration form :

Have you heard about Elementor?
It’s what you are looking for - a free open source page builder for WordPress

1 Like

Cool! How would it stack against LiveComposer ?(which I find uncomfortable, waiting for next release…)

EDIT: So far so good, from an user point of view, Elementor is awesome ! I hope we could integrate it nicely with Sage based themes soon ! (and keep great performance)

I just found one more open source builder called Tailor :

1 Like

Glad, as always, to get the informed input of the Roots/Sage community on this. Tailor looks promising.

I also came across two 2017 Page Builder comparisons from A Themes, which is really nicely put together and out of which Beaver Builder and Elementor rate the highest; and from Blogging Wizard which is interesting because of it’s concentration on Marketing Conversions and A/B (Split) testing.

1 Like

Really, really, really recommend Tailor over Beaver Builder or anything else

1 Like

Surprised not to see Page Builder Sandwich mentioned here (or on the “A Themes” list linked by @mZoo).

After an extensive review of every available page builder I could get my hands on with my designer (who, after all, is the one who ends up spending the most time in the page builder) we decided PBS had by far the best interface and cleanest code output. I’ve been using it for the last 4 months on my most recent trellis/bedrock/sage-based project and have LOVED it. The default styles are pretty bare-bones/agnostic but that’s really a good thing. There were initially some bugs but the support staff were very responsive and bugfixes were pushed not long after reporting them.

I tried Tailor about 10 months ago (on @ben’s advice actually), and even pushed some PRs to the project, but ended up disenchanted due to a dislike of its UX and code output. If I can remember correctly most of the actual content editing and alignment occurred in lightboxes and It just doesn’t feel like the edit/layout experience is as deeply integrated as it could be, and is, with PBS.


PBS looks really good - this is just the advice I came here to get! Do you have a preferred way of integrating it with your Sage themes? Like, is there a best practice approach or gotcha’s to be aware of?